Environmental lobbyists say moves by big dairy co-operative
Fonterra to crack down on farmers polluting waterways are a
mere slap on the wrist.
Fonterra today threatened to hold back $1500 from the milk
payout for farmers who received infringement notices, and
$3000 if the farmer was prosecuted.
The average Fonterra farmer last season received a milk
payout of more than $800,000.
The company today said 11 percent of its farmers still
seriously breached regional council regulations, and that
those levels of offending were "unacceptable".
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the proposal to
withhold a "tiny portion" of the milk payouts suggested the
company was not serious about promoting responsible farming
and cleaning up rivers.
"The fines are insignificant, and the target is pathetic -
this is illegal activity," he said.
"The environment will wear the cost, and those farmers doing
the right thing will continue to have their reputations
tarnished by the bad eggs."
Fish and Game New Zealand chief executive Bryce Johnson
called for a more robust approach, because Fonterra's target
of cutting serious non-compliance by 50 percent by August
2011 would allow some farmers to continue polluting.
"Fonterra is explicitly condoning the ongoing flaunting of
the law by a proportion of their farmer shareholders," he
"This is not acceptable to most New Zealanders.
"To set a target of 50 percent improvement over
two-and-a-half years smacks of `green wash'."
Fonterra said staff would provide advice "to the minority of
farmers who have been identified as needing support".
Barry Harris, who chaired Fonterra's sustainability
leadership team, and previously negotiated the Clean Streams
Accord with Fonterra for regional councils, said progress on
effluent management was one area that continued to let down
Fonterra and threaten the image of New Zealand dairying and
access to natural resources.
"Most of our farmers, despite complex rules and changing
expectations, have made excellent progress in establishing
robust effluent management systems," he said.
"But others are experiencing difficulties in complying with
regional council regulations and that level of non-compliance
remains much too high".
Sustainable dairy advisors at the company could help identify
problems that might result in non-compliance, and the
effluent "grading" deduction system would be used against
persistent non-complying farmers.
Next dairy season would give farmers time to become familiar
with the new system with emphasis on advice and scope for an
"advisory deduction" before the real thing is imposed in the
2010-2011 season, with a deadline of acceptable compliance by